Sudoku, Crosswords Could Make Your Brain Years Younger

Mornings spent figuring out Sudoku or finessing a crossword could spell better health for aging brains, researchers say.

In a study of over 19,000 British adults aged 50 and over who were tracked for 25 years, the habit of doing word or number puzzles seemed to help keep minds nimble over time.

“We’ve found that the more regularly people engage with puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku, the sharper their performance is across a range of tasks assessing memory, attention and reasoning,” said research leader Dr. Anne Corbett, of the University of Exeter Medical School.

Full story at US News

What helps prevent dementia? Try exercise, not vitamin pills

If you want to save your brain, focus on keeping the rest of your body well with exercise and healthy habits rather than popping vitamin pills, new guidelines for preventing dementia advise.

About 50 million people currently have dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type. Each year brings 10 million new cases, says the report released Tuesday by the World Health Organization.

Although age is the top risk factor, “dementia is not a natural or inevitable consequence of aging,” it says.

Many health conditions and behaviors affect the odds of developing it, and research suggests that a third of cases are preventable, said Maria Carrillo, chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, which has published similar advice.

Full story at NBC News

DASH diet reduced heart failure risk ‘by almost half’ in people under 75

Sticking to a plant-rich diet that can reduce high blood pressure may also lower the risk of heart failure in people under the age of 75.

This was the conclusion of a study that a team at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, led to assess the impact of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan on heart failure.

They report their findings in a paper that now features in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are around 5.7 million adults with heart failure in the United States.

Full story at Medical News Today

New Tax Will Help Washington Residents Pay for Long-Term Care

Eligible residents who live in Washington State will have a new benefit available to them starting in 2025: a $100-per-day allowance for a variety of long-term care services, which will last up to a year.

The money will come from a payroll tax that begins in 2022, according to rules in a bill that the state’s governor signed Monday. Residents’ employers will put 0.58 percent of their paychecks — $290 for every $50,000 in income — into a state fund. Washington does not have a state income tax.

According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, no state has passed such sweeping coverage for long-term care, including nursing home fees, in-home assistance and reimbursing family members for care they provide.

Full story at The New York Times

Senior Care Centers Drags Down Sabra’s Q1, But Optimism Remains — With Addiction as Next Frontier

A sizable real estate impairment charge related to the bankrupt Senior Care Centers contributed to a $77.7 million first-quarter loss for Sabra Health Care REIT (Nasdaq: SBRA), but executives remain upbeat that the changes coming to skilled nursing this fall will boost fortunes industry-wide.

The real estate investment trust (REIT) took a $103 million impairment charge primarily associated with the Dallas-based SCC, which filed for bankruptcy last year, amid a larger push toward divesting almost all of its Senior Care Centers skilled nursing facilities.

That number was higher than the originally projected $69 million, in part due to the Irvine, Calif.-based Sabra’s decision to sell off more properties than anticipated. The charge also included the effects of lingering storm damage from Hurricane Harvey in the Houston region, CEO Rick Matros said on the company’s first-quarter earnings call Thursday.

Full story at Skilled Nursing News

Do Adults Need a Measles Booster Shot?

New York’s ongoing measles epidemic alarmed midtown Manhattan resident Deb Ivanhoe, who couldn’t remember whether she’d ever been vaccinated as a child.

So Ivanhoe, 60, sought out her long-time primary care doctor, who performed an antibody test to see whether she had any protection against measles.

To her surprise, the test revealed that Ivanhoe had no immunity to measles. Her doctor quickly gave her a measles booster shot.

“I’m a New Yorker. I’m out and about. I take the subway every day,” Ivanhoe said of her concerns. “One of the outbreak areas is in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I have friends in Williamsburg. I go to there to visit, for dinner. It all becomes local.”

Full story at US News

Could a cell phone game detect who is at risk of Alzheimer’s?

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis often relies on signs of memory problems. However, these issues usually do not appear until years after the disease has taken hold. A new smartphone game is using spatial navigation to detect Alzheimer’s before it is too late.

Another person develops Alzheimer’s diseas eevery 3 seconds, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. The number of people living with this most common form of dementia currently stands at around 50 million. By 2050, experts expect this figure to have tripled.

The last “significant breakthrough” in Alzheimer’s research happened 4 decades ago, states the latest World Alzheimer’s Report. However, a recently developed smartphone game may alter that statistic.

Full story at Medical News Today

‘My dad died at their hands’: WWII vet fatally injured in VA nursing home

Jim Ferguson wanted answers.

How was his 91-year-old father, who served in the U.S. Navy in World War II, fatally injured in a Veterans Affairs nursing home, the institution Ferguson had entrusted to care for him?

Huddled around a computer monitor with managers at the VA in Des Moines, Iowa, Ferguson watched a hallway surveillance video that depicted a chilling blow to his father’s head.

“I lost it,” Ferguson told USA TODAY. “I broke down.”

In the video, James “Milt” Ferguson Sr., who had dementia and was legally blind, appears confused. He opens a hallway door, rolls his wheelchair into another resident’s room, then wheels back out. No staff members are visible. He circles around and heads back into the room.

Full story at USA Today

State Medicaid Director Letter: Three New Opportunities to Test Innovative Integrated Care Models for Individuals Dually Eligible for Medicaid and Medicare

As a 2019 strategic priority, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is redoubling efforts to better serve older adults and people with disabilities dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. The goal is to create a more seamless experience across the two programs while ensuring that incentives are aligned and pointed toward lower cost and better outcomes.

On April 24, CMS sent a letter to State Medicaid Directors inviting states to partner on testing innovative approaches to better serve those who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. Many of these 12 million beneficiaries have complex healthcare issues and often have socioeconomic risk factors that can lead to poor outcomes. This letter opens new ways to address those needs, align incentives, encourage marketplace innovation through the private sector, lower costs, and reduce administrative burdens.

Full story at acl.gov

As Sense of Smell Fades, Does Death Come Closer?

They say the nose knows, but can a loss of smell signal impending death?

Possibly, researchers say.

They discovered that a poor sense of smell was associated with a nearly 50% higher risk of death within the next decade for adults older than 70.

While the study didn’t prove cause and effect, that association is enough to make some experts wonder whether seniors’ sense of smell should be tested alongside their other vital signs.

“I would not be surprised if someday the sense of smell was included as a simple checkup, to see if this important human sense is affected,” said senior researcher Dr. Honglei Chen, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Michigan State University.

Full story at US News